Full Circle: Dairy Farmer Turns Columnist

At the 2014 Festival of Books, Brookings County writer Jerry Nelson attended Pitchapalooza, an idea generating session led by The Book Doctors, Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry.

Nelson, Jerry - Dear CA Guy.jpgNelson’s autobiographical pitch about a dairy farmer turned successful regional newspaper columnist didn’t win, but the Book Doctors were sufficiently intrigued. They put Nelson in touch with Workman Publishing in New York, which recently released Nelson’s first book, Dear County Agent Guy, a collection of Nelson’s best columns, which are written under the same title.

Nelson’s writing career began in the wet summer of 1996, when he penned a tongue-in-cheek letter to the local Extension agent that addressed quandaries like eradicating cattails and jet skis from corn. His columns now appear in newspapers and magazines throughout the Midwest.

That Nelson is even here to share his rural wisdom is miraculous. One day his father found him floating face-up in the underground manure pit, overcome by hydrogen sulfide. He went home after six weeks in the hospital, surprising his wife, doctors and nurses who didn’t expect him to survive.

Lucky for us, he did. How else would we know that a calf puller isn’t a viable option during childbirth?


From the 2016 Festival of Books guide, as written by South Dakota Magazine staff. 

From the SDPB TV archives, a feature on Jerry Nelson from Dakota Life.